Officials now say teen did not jump from bridge

Posted at 7:43 PM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 12:01:41-04

Hernando authorities have corrected an earlier release that said the boy reportedly jumped from the bridge. They now say he was pulled under by a current and never resurfaced while playing in the water. 

The 16-year-old died at the hospital after bystanders pulled him from the river. 

UPDATE | Family fights to protect teen's image after Memorial Day drowning

The report said there were people up on the bridge, but the boy was not among them and there is currently no evidence to suggest he jumped.

There are signs posted, warning people they cannot jump. The bridge is located near Rogers Park. The bridge has a fence next to it as well, which serves to try to prevent children from jumping into the river. Authorities said they respond to the location repeatedly because people are violating the warning signs.

According to the sheriff's office, they actively patrol the bridge.

The boy was swept underwater, and neighbors in the area found him unconscious about 100 feet away from the bridge.

"The neighbor across the river basically was hollering, 'Hey, is that kid swimming,'" said Greg Geeraerts.

Geeraerts and other neighbors tried to help the 16-year-old boy.

"Me and another neighbor and my brother-in-law grabbed him up and started bringing him up back to my yard," Geeraerts said.

Multiple people tried to perform CPR, including Nancy Sampson. Nancy Sampson is a nurse, who was off duty, and nearby.

"It was very traumatic to know that that was a 16-year-old who, you know, that life has gone out of him now," Nancy Sampson said.

During high tide, authorities said, the river underneath the bridge is anywhere between 8 to 10 feet deep.

Authorities called today's incident a tragic accident. They continue to investigate.

ABC Action News spoke over the phone with the aunt of the young man who was killed. She said her nephew was playing with his cousin in the water, a beach ball got away, and he was swept away.


The story has been edited to reflect the most recent information from law enforcement. A prior version of this story cited a report from authorities that suggested the boy may have jumped from the bridge.